Five days of walking leisure in this beautiful location, including scenic transportation to and from the Coast. This trip is designed for groups who wish to ‘get away from it all’ and enjoy day trips, coming home each day to the comfort of our own place with full facilities.
Depending on the length of the trip, one or two nights will be spent in Karamea, or at the Gentle Annie beach lodge. Gentle Annie is situated 45 minutes from Karamea, just south of the Karamea bluff. Our accommodation looks out over the wild west coast, just minutes from the beach and surrounded by native bush, including nikau palms.
There are many day options available to choose from, including a full day in the Oparara Valley, visiting Australasia’s largest limestone arch and the Honeycomb Hill cave which has the country’s largest deposits of moa bones. We will also visit the beginning of the renowned Heaphy Track and walk amidst New Zealand’s largest stand of nikau palms. There is also the option of visiting the Denniston plateau, the historical coal mining area, and the place where the popular book ‘Denniston Rose’ is set. Other highlights of the day may include climbing to alpine heights and river walks. The aim is relaxation in beautiful surroundings.
Prices include all food, accommodation costs, and transfers ex Motueka or Nelson airport. Accommodation at the Gentle Annie lodge is on a double or shared basis. Linen and towels are provided. In Karamea we will stay at either the historic Village Hotel or the Last Resort, which combines modern motel comfort with traditional West Coast hospitality and award winning regional cuisine. The following is a sample of some of the day trips available. Itineraries will be discussed with each individual group.
Gentle Annie beach is situated at the foot of the Karamea Bluff, beside the mouth of the Mokihinui River. The beach is a driftwood fossicker’s paradise and can keep most beachcombers happy all day! At the northern end of the beach a track winds up to a headland to provide excellent views up and down the coast. The track continues down to a deserted beach and rugged rocky coastline. Time will be spent fossicking and along this unspoiled shoreline, taking time out to enjoy a picnic lunch.
The Charming Creek Walkway starts near the old mining settlement of Seddonville and follows old mining tracks and tramlines. It is 10.5 kms long and finishes on the Ngakawau River at Hector township. For those interested in West Coast history, this walk is a must. The track has many relics on it and passes through several old tunnels. Scenic highlights are the Ngakawau Gorge and Mangatini Falls. At the base of these falls, the large and rare Celmisia morganii can be found. (Most New Zealand Celmisia’s are alpine plants.) We will walk the track (easy gradient) at a leisurely pace and have a vehicle waiting for us at Hector.
The site of the old coal-mining township of Denniston sits on a plateau at 600m overlooking the Tasman Sea. Even though the elevation isn’t particularly high, it is a true alpine area as it takes the brunt of the prevailing westerly weather. This mining area had the dubious honour of having the steepest “incline” (inclined railway) in New Zealand in its time, the building of which was an engineering feat in itself. Rich in the lore and artifacts of early New Zealand coal mining, Denniston is the setting of the popular novel ‘Denniston Rose’ by Jenny Pattrick. There is much to see in this area for anyone who is interested in the early coal mining days of the West Coast. We can spend a day on the plateau visiting the relics and being reminded of the harsh conditions in which these tough and stoic people lived in – the women and children as well as the miners themselves. The final part of the day is to spend two hours walking down from the plateau on the original gently benched zigzag track, which was the only way off the plateau (other than in a coal bucket going down the incline) until the road was put in about 20 years after mining began.
For the more adventurous and fitter person, a steep track through mixed lowland and montane forest leads to the bush edge and a climb through tussock, to the summit of Mount Glasgow. As the Glasgow Range is close to the coast, the vistas from this alpine environment are magnificent.
Situated only 15 minutes off the road between Karamea and Gentle Annie, this lake is surrounded by pristine bush with a variety of plant species including podocarps and Dracophyllums. The track continues along the lakeshore
The Oparara Valley contains some of the best lowland forest left in New Zealand. This mixed podocarp/beech forest dripping with moss, lichen and spleenworts, has a lovely varied understorey as well. Robins, tomtits, pigeons and rifleman are common in the valley. A full day can be had in the Oparara Valley exploring the Oparara limestone arch, Moira Gate (another limestone arch), Mirror Tarn, the Box Canyon and the Crazy Paving Caves. A special feature will be a tour of the Honeycomb Hill Caves with a specially qualified guide. The Caves are situated in a specially protected area, with access restricted to guided tours. This extensive subterranean wonderland of conventional dropstone and flowstone formations also includes a profusion of very beautiful and delicate rarer features known variously to cavers as cave coral, petals, pearls, rimstone pools, elephants feet, moonmilk and even shawls and straws, depending on how they were formed. The caves are also home to the largest and most varied collection of subfossil bird bones ever found in New Zealand. More than 50 species, many of them extinct, have been recorded. Amongst those is 9 different moa species.
Near Karamea, a 30 minute walk takes you to a rimu tree which was left as a monument after surrounding country was logged early last century. The size of this tree has to be seen to be believed and is a reminder to viewers of what we have destroyed, and how important it is to hold on to what forest we have left.
Kohaihai is approximately 20 minutes north from Karamea, and is the western start of the famous Heaphy Track. Magnificent unspoiled Scott’s Beach is the first beach on the track. It is only a one hour walk on the track over the Kohaihai bluff to the beach. Along the track we will also take time to do the Nikau Grove walk through a fabulous stand of the world’s most southern palm. Another feature of the walk is the coastal view from the Kohaihai bluff lookout.
Mount Stormy offers an alpine environment close to the coast. A climb for the more fit and adventurous, with magnificent vistas down to the coast and the interior of Kahurangi.